Upstate New York’s Ausable Chasm has earned its nickname: “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks.”

With towering cliffs, a roaring river running through it, intriguing geologic formations, a primeval Adirondack forest and the eerie Mystic Gorge, Ausable Chasm is one of the most scenic areas in the Empire State.

“Activities range from gentle hikes to rafting, tubing, rock climbing, rappelling and the Adventure Trail,” said Tim Bresett, general manager. “It’s similar to a cable course but much more real-life than an amusement-park style thing.”

Inner Sanctum, Ausable Chasm
Inner Sanctum, Ausable Chasm, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Credit: Ausable Chasm Company

The range of activities is vast at the natural attraction, 12 miles south of Plattsburgh.

“You can jam-pack a couple of hours to try to see it, but you’d need a full day if you really want to experience it,” he added.

The best option for tour operators is the “Classic Tour,” which offers a good sampling of the fun for those with limited time, Bresett said. After a 1-mile walk through the scenic upper chasm and a 1-mile float through the lower chasm, a trolley brings visitors back to the start. The tour takes about three hours.

“That gives you time to get a bite to eat, shop or get to the next stop,” he said.

Those who have time can schedule an add-on like the River Walk. “It’s a very inexpensive add-on that gets you down to the Upper Chasm,” Bresett said.

Tubing, Ausable Chasm
Tubing, Ausable Chasm, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Credit: Ausable Chasm Company

Motorcoaches should plan to arrive by 9 a.m., the only time available for groups.

Ausable Chasm has welcomed bus groups “since the bus hit the road,” Bresett said. Before that, visitors came by steamer up the Hudson River or on Lake Champlain and took a stagecoach or train to the chasm.

“We get up to 20 buses some days so we’re not strangers to the motorcoach traffic,” he said. “We’ve had some groups that were over 100, and that works out just fine.”

Free motorcoach parking is available near the building. Discounts apply to groups of 15 or more. The driver and group leader are comped.

For more information, call 518-834-7454 or visit

Article by Kathie Sutin